Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Censorship: coming soon to an ISP near you?

Australia and soon the EU will be enacting laws ostensibly to block access to child pornography sites, but who watches the watchers? While these are laudable goals, is this the way to do it? Implementing infrastructure that puts control of this powerful technology in the hands of the political class is foolish. And if it's available, you can be sure they'll use it, whatever their political leanings. It appears that it works by blacklisting sites. Who decides what sites are to be blacklisted and what is the process for doing it? Do we get to know what they're doing? To whom are they accountable? If Internet and surveillance infrastructure are set up in this way, then its use is at the whim of those in power. It could be an off off switch for dissenting opinion on the internet: "Oops, we don't know what happened but we'll bring it back as soon as possible". Think the great Firewall of China. Think Twitter reporting on the Iranian election protests last year, and then being brought down last week, allegedly in revenge. Those in power today might have the best of intentions, but what about those that follow in five, ten, twenty years? We need to keep an eye on this. The Internet is an enormous resource for freedom, and freedom of speech. As it stands it is difficult to censor online, at least in Western countries, but if we're not careful, bills passed quietly in the night by ignorant or malicious politicians could allow this kid of trip switch to creep up on us before we know it.

UK: http://tinyurl.com/dk7mhl

Australia: http://tinyurl.com/y868e49

EU legislation: http://tinyurl.com/c9vzsv

Electronic Frontier Foundation: http://www.eff.org/issues/international

Posted via web from John's posterous

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